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Raising the bar for measuring compliance: NDPE Implementation Framework improves transparency

Cargill collaborates to develop, test and scale a new reporting model for the palm oil industry

June 19, 2019

While Cargill has made steady progress toward achieving our commitments to responsibly source palm oil from deforestation- and exploitation-free supply chains, we are aware that more must be done. We also recognized the need for a consistent way to measure and communicate progress in meeting our own commitments as well as a need to do so across the industry.

In June 2018, Cargill began working with Proforest, Pepsico and other stakeholders to develop a standard approach for monitoring and reporting progress on No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) commitments. The resulting NDPE Implementation Framework, led by Proforest, is designed to increase transparency about the progress that has been made so far, what still needs to be done and the challenges that must be addressed in order for companies to deliver on NPDE commitments.

The framework’s methodology standardizes the process of researching and categorizing mills into different pre-defined categories of progress to ensure consistency and improve accuracy. The objective is to evaluate each mill using criteria to measure progress related to deforestation, peat and labor, recognizing that progress may differ on each topic. The idea is that refineries take a lead role in collecting the information from mills and assign all the mills within their supply base to one of five implementation categories:

  • Delivery – Delivering on NDPE commitments
  • Progress – Addressing challenges in a timely manner to achieve NDPE
  • Action – Beginning to take action through policy commitments or developing action plans (e.g., including planned actions to disclose publishing concession maps, etc.)
  • Awareness – Participation in assessments or training but no further action
  • Known – Traceability to the mill achieved but no further progress

Using the information collected from mills through standard data collection profiles combined with information on volumes of palm oil sourced, the refinery or other resource collecting the information can allocate total volumes in their supply toward each category. Refineries and aggregators report results for each region so that all stakeholders in the supply chain – no matter how far removed they are from the mill – can more accurately get access to and report the status of delivering on NDPE commitments.

Piloting the framework

With the framework and draft indicators for the categories in hand, Cargill and others conducted pilot studies. The NDPE Implementation Framework was tested with refineries in Southeast Asia that buy palm oil directly from mills, a refinery in Europe buying from mills and aggregators, and a trader in Europe. The European pilot studies focused specifically on using the draft indicators to measure progress toward deforestation-free sourcing and thus delivery on no-deforestation commitments.

The next step was to share the results and gather feedback on the methodology. Leading up to the 16th annual Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) meeting in Malaysia, Cargill, Pepsico and Proforest facilitated a workshop to discuss outcomes from the NDPE Implementation Framework pilot studies and gather input from NGOs, brands, growers, traders and other stakeholders across the supply chain in order to further improve the methodology and process. Lively discussion among participants led to further refinement of the framework as a tool to build greater transparency on progress, highlight remaining gaps and address challenges.

Scaling up

In 2019, refinement of the framework will continue as Proforest and Earthworm Foundation (formerly The Forest Trust) lead the industry effort to fine-tune the methodology (including adding the step of allocating palm volumes to the producers of fresh fruit bunches), scale up implementation, ensure compatibility with the Accountability Framework and develop guidance on verification.

Cargill and other members of the core working group will continue to play a role in developing the NDPE Implementation Framework and adopting it as a common industry standard to report on progress toward delivering on deforestation- and exploitation-free commitments. This level of collaboration will help move the industry forward in a more significant and lasting way toward greater accountability and sustainability.

Learn more about how Cargill is increasing transparency in the palm oil supply chain.